The title of the last presentation in the business meeting part of our agenda is a fitting one – “The next chapter”. In fact, this is what most companies deal with all the time in their strategic planning processes and where we learn that both vision and strategy are important. But there is a priority to them. Vision always comes first. If you have a clear vision, you will eventually attract the right strategy. If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you. This is as true in the world of non profit member organizations like BISG as it is in the corporate world. In some ways, it’s even more true. In fact, let’s start there. Why does a trade association exist?
Think about how a trade group forms. Members of a community realize that they face a common problem, and they come together to solve that problem. In the case of BISG, it was research. A variety of industry stakeholders wanted more, and more actionable, data, and they joined forces to accomplish that goal. Sometimes the issue being addressed is short-term, and the group, its work completed, disbands, or perhaps it merges with another association, reducing redundancy to better serve joint constituencies.
Sometimes the industry the association serves changes—maybe it declines, maybe it transforms—in a way that renders the continued association of the members moot.
And sometimes, as was the case with BISG, the members of the group see other areas of common purpose and expand the scope of how they can work together.Remember, and this is important, associations do not exist in the abstract. They don’t exist for and of themselves. They exist because a community of members wants and needs them to exist. When I announced at BISG’s Making Information Pay conference in May that we had embarked on an effort to rethink our mission and our brand, the very nature of trade associations and their relevance to the industry and the members was an important part of our dialogue. We needed to understand what value BISG was offering to its members, and what value we could or should we offer.As you heard in George’s financial report, our organization is on solid financial footing, with a strong membership, and an excellent program of products and services. There is no apparent urgency to this discussion. The state of BISG is strong.
But that’s the thing about transformative change, it is, to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, always overestimated in the short term, and underestimated in the long term. We needed to act now to be prepared for tomorrow. As such, our Board began a thorough process of self-evaluation. It started with a series of discussions held by BISG’s executive committee, was further honed in a white paper Len wrote about BISG and its relevance, and moved forward forcefully with two brainstorming sessions with the full Board.As we dove deeper into our work, several themes emerged:
The first theme is that the larger publishing ecosystem—those who create, produce, distribute published content, and those who support them—needs a centrally situated body to effect problem solving and build consensus. This is the role played by BISG.
The second theme is that the book as an organizing principle for a trade association is coming to the end of its useful life. That’s not to suggest that books are going away, but rather, that the friction we encounter in our businesses goes far beyond issues related to the book as an artifact. CLICK to Fade Book Out
And finally, we serve practitioners as well as corporations. In other words, we serve the needs of individuals within corporations as much as we do the larger company. I’ll talk more about this in a minute.
Standards, while vitally important to the industry and vitally important to our organization, have become fractured. As a result, the Board elected to take a clean sheet of paper and rethink BISG’s mission statement and brand. This is a very significant and momentous undertaking for a forty year old organization. To inform this process, we surveyed not just our members, but the stakeholders from across the entire publishing ecosystem. The survey sought to discover both attitudes toward and impressions of BISG, as well as to identify the points of friction mostly commonly felt by stakeholders.
More than 650 of you responded to the survey—thank you for that, by the way—and the results were fascinating. The number point of friction identified was digital transformation—how to adapt, how to go forward, how to not only survive but thrive. The number two point of friction was “other.”
In other words, there was a preponderance of answers that were so specific to the survey respondent that they could not be rolled up into a common category. The very nature of our friction has become more individual, more, and I’ll say it again, fractured. This is what I meant when I spoke of the difference between companies and practitioners a moment ago. The survey results and the work of the Board provided a strong foundation for a Board-constituted working group with the charge of drafting a new BISG Mission Statement.
That group, chaired by Maureen McMahon, president of Kaplan publishing, met several times in the spring and summer, examining what BISG has been, what it is, and what it could be. They reviewed the mission statements of other trade organizations, they debated, they argued, they cried, they laughed, they hugged. In the end, they presented this mission statement to the full Board of BISG, and I’m happy to report that it has been approved:
BISG’s mission is to facilitate innovation and shared solutions for the benefit of all companies and practitioners that create, produce, and distribute published content, and the organizations that support them.A good mission statement is incredibly important in that it provides a roadmap for an organization. Let’s dissect this mission statement for a moment. BISG will:
We will facilitate shared solutions.
We will benefit both companies and practitioners
We will serve the entire ecosystem. That all sounds great, right? But how exactly are we going to do that. Here’s a small sampling of what you can expect to see from BISG in the coming months:
1)We will produce the first meaningful industry forecast since BISG stopped producing its Trends report. We are asked for this repeatedly by stakeholders from all corners of our world, as well as by interested parties from beyond our ecosystem. We are in the process of lining up partners to create this report, now. 2) We are once again partnering with AAP to produce BookStats, this time, Volume Four. 3) We are continuing our partnership with Bowker Market Research, now a part of Nielsen, to produce Volume Four of Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education. 5) We will produce, or at least begin production, on an industry white paper on the subscription model of selling books, similar to the metadata white paper we published in 2012.
6) We are going to sunset Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading. This has been an incredibly valuable report, and we’re very proud of what it’s accomplished through its four volumes. But in a process of reimagining your portfolio, knowing what NOT to do is as important as knowing what to do.
7) We are forging a closer partnership with W3C, the group responsible for Web standards. W3C is taking a keen interest in publishing, and is likely to influence the direction of standards in our world. It’s vitally important that BISG, and our members, stay connected and stay involved. WE ARE.8) BISG is forging a partnership with IDPF on that group’s Conformance Test Suite, to validate EPUB3 reading systems. This is a welcome development and the next generation of BISG’s EPUB3 Support Grid. 9) We will follow the publication of A Field Guide on Fixed Layout for E-Bookswith publication of two new field guides on best practices for developing e-books, one on interactivity, and one on fonts. Both will publish in this fiscal year. We are in the process of developing a sophisticated ONIX validation tool to be made available free to BISG members that will form the basis of a revamped product data certification program. 10) Two new working groups of our Metadata Committee have formed – one to create best practices for keywords and tagging in metadata, and one to (CLICK – COMMON CORE) identify content that is compliant with Common Core educational standards. 11)We will continue to develop and maintain BISAC Subject Codes, will continue to support the new Thema Global subject codes.
12) We will once again host Making Information Pay, our half day conference devoted to data. This year’s event is scheduled for DATE T/KI’m pleased to announce that we are, for the first time, collocating Making Information Pay for Higher Ed with Digital Book World. This will help grow our audience, and will bring meaningful content to DBW attendees. We will also expand the program from half a day to a full day. 13) We will build on the success we’ve had with our Professional Development workshops and (CLICK – EXECUTIVE LUNCH) our Executive Lunch series, providing education in an intimate setting, tailored to the individual. We will partner with others to host an increasing number of smaller, focused events to provide educational and networking opportunities, some of them beyond thebordersof New York City, and I don’t just mean New Jersey. 16)For example, we are in the process of planning our first international conference, to take place in Brazil in spring/summer (Northern hemisphere spring/summer) 2014
We are culminating our changes by launching a new BISG website to reflect this new direction, with a fully integrated member database, in the next six to eight weeks. And finally, we’re going to be working on a new brand. (CLICK – BRAND DISAPPEARS) An organization whose mission is to facilitate innovation and shared solutions for the benefit of companies and practitioners, that create, produce, and distribute published content, and the organizations that support them, isn’t really aGROUP that STUDIES the BOOK INDUSTRY. And this is just a taste. There is much more on the horizon and I am personally excited for our executive committee, the 30 members of our governing board members, and the true heroes that are the hundreds of volunteers from a great multitude of different companies who are helping to continually evolve our publishing ecosyste. Their efforts through active engagement in our working committees deserves our admiration, our respect and our ongoing support. Thank you.
So there we have it, the next chapter. That is YOUR trade association in motion and as always, we want to hear what you think. I’d like to invite Tara and Len back to the stage so that the three of us may answer any questions you might have about the mission statement as well as our strategies overall.
However, “quote” I encourage you to communicate with me and the rest of the Board, and to communicate with Len and the staff. We are at our strongest when we leverage the collective power of our community to help connect content to readers. In short, we prosper when we are truly “we.”Thank you.
BISG 2013 Annual Meeting of Members: New Mission
The Next Chapter
Global COO for Macmillan Science and Education
Chair, Book Industry Study Group